Long-form is back – and it’s better

by Martin MacConnol, Chief Executive

We’ve started to note a distinct trend at Wardour. Yes, we live in a world of soundbites, pull-stats and listicles. But that does not mean that long-form content is dead.

Perhaps it’s to do with the audiences we are often asked to engage with. Much of our work is at the ‘heavyweight’ end of the scale – commissioning societal thinkers for the Royal Society of Arts, or interviewing global business leaders for EY. You just can’t get all meaningful insights into a 200-word list.

Our clients are increasingly realising this. We feel a backlash to the marketing industry pressure to cut back and dumb down. Yes, the quick hits of content that now act as brand advertising on Twitter, LinkedIn et al have to exist to hook in audiences during their busy, media-saturated lives. But no, these content ads are not the solution, only the journey to a solution that once again is increasingly focused on something in-depth, well thought-out and meaningfully nuanced.

So we are seeing a renaissance of the long-form art of content creation – but in this post-digital age it’s a renaissance with a key difference to what went before.

Because, of course, long-form is now truly multimedia. Today isn’t just about 1,000 words plus on a page. It’s about a fusion of words, pictures, videos, infographics, audio and more, to tell a story in a variety of different and powerful ways. Each complements the next, building to create something that is more than the sum of its parts.

A great example of long-form reborn is the work we did for our tech client Gemalto in Estonia. Gemalto wanted to show to government leaders in the country that they really appreciated how embedded digital transformation is to the nation – and to remind them that Gemalto’s work has been (and should continue to be) integral to the concept of digital government services in Estonia. And naturally, beyond that, our client wanted other blossoming ‘digital’ nations to see how in step with the vision of digital government they are.

We achieved this through a new kind of story, building a content microsite to take audiences through the story of digital transformation in Estonia with a combination of words, stats, photos, infographics and videos. Each element provides a separate ‘advertising’ soundbite that the world of always-on demands. But in their totality they show a level of understanding of the complex issues that only a proper piece of in-depth journalism can deliver.

The production process was complex, the filming and interviewing in location on cold days in Tallinn stretched the team. But the result has been undeniable success for the client. Forget the Grand Award from iNova for best microsite of 2015. Forget too that nearly 20,000 people have engaged with what can only be regarded as a fairly ‘niche’ topic. Dwell instead on who these people are: key influencers the Gemalto team wanted to reach, including two European Commission policymakers and the Estonian president himself. Now that’s influence a soundbite can’t generate.

Click here to see the result of our always-on microsite for Gemalto.

Published Mar 30, 2016

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